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Before 2020, the North Atlantic was one of the busiest airspaces in the world. Every day more than 1,300 flights would cross the pond on their journey between North America and Europe. Despite the large volume of traffic, due to the remoteness of the open water, flights were not covered by radar like they are over land.
To ensure that flights remained safely separated, aircraft would fly prescribed tracks, like motorway lanes in the sky — called the organized track structure (OTS). However, these routes were not always the most direct, and extra carbon emissions were produced as a result.
However, in recent weeks, scientists at Reading University have found that considerable savings could be made on emissions if aircraft were able to fly routes that took advantage of the wind. Over the course of a typical winter, this would result in a 2.7% saving on carbon emission per passenger, totaling a saving of 7,000 tons of CO2.